When and why will you hear Geneseo's emergency sirens?

Lisa Depies
The emergency siren located at the east end of Ogden Avenue is one of five emergency sirens in the City of Geneseo. Sirens are sounded to warn of the threat of tornados or severe thunderstorms.

Life in the Midwest means the threat of tornadoes and dangerous thunderstorms. To help protect local citizens, the City of Geneseo has five storm sirens.

The sirens are sounded in three-to-five minute bursts every 10 to 15 minutes for the duration of the threat.

Geneseo follows guidelines issued by the National Weather Service. The storm sirens are sounded when a severe weather tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service and/or when a funnel cloud is reported by a trained spotter.

The sirens also sound during severe thunderstorm warnings and/or when winds are 70 miles per hour or greater and/or golf-ball sized hail or larger is spotted.

During severe weather, the Geneseo Police Department dispatches trained weather spotters to monitor changing weather conditions.

The sirens are meant to warn citizens who are outdoors, said Geneseo Police Chief Tom Piotrowski. “Citizens should use weather radio and/or radio or TV to monitor the weather when inside their residences.”

The city’s siren policy also means a warning is sounded for non-weather emergencies, including a hazmat incident, terrorism, nuclear emergency or any other incident that poses a threat to those outdoors and requires action to protect life.

There is no “all clear” signal from the warning sirens.

Geneseo has five emergency sirens, one at Chicago and Ogden, one at Oakwood and Second Street, one in the Richmond Hill area, another near the former civil defense building north of Geneseo on Roos Hill Road and the fifth on the southwest corner of Chicago Street and Route 6.

The sirens are tested the first Tuesday of every month at 10 a.m. If a severe weather watch or warning is in effect for the Quad City metro area prior to 10 a.m. on a scheduled test day, the sirens will not be tested.

On Tuesday, March 7, Geneseo tested its sirens in conjunction with the annual scheduled statewide tornado drill. The drill is part of Illinois Severe Weather Preparedness Week.